Standards in Proficiency Based Education

In education the term “standards, a skill or knowledge deemed essential”, is often used in a variety of contexts.  The use of the term standards in the proficiency-based education statute refers to the standards of Maine’s learning standards document, the Maine Learning Results.  The statute identifies the Maine learning standards (the MLR content standards) as the targets for student proficiency. The word standard appears in multiple contexts on the Maine Getting to Proficiency website.  In some contexts the term standard is intended to reference the standards of the Maine Learning Results.  In other instances, the term “standards” appears in the context of “power standards” and “graduation standards”.  Power standards and graduation standards are provided as examples of ways that schools can merge or consolidate, or expand the essential knowledge and skills identified in our state standards documents for the purposes of reporting. The examples provide schools with alternative reporting schema for organizing the comprehensive collection of the core ideas in each content area of the state learning standards. Schools may select one of these organizations for reporting proficiency or create a different organization that comprehensively represents the core ideas of the state standards. The examples provided on Getting to Proficiency offer a system with a manageable and similar number of reporting units for each of the eight content areas.

The choice to consistently identify five to eight standards, from this point called “reporting standards”, resulted in different organizations of the content area standards. For example in World Languages, the four Maine learning standards were reconfigured into five reporting standards. For other content areas the number of standards was reconfigured into fewer reporting standards for e.g., English language arts and mathematics.

The chart below shows the relationship between the Maine learning standards for World Languages and the reporting standards for proficiency-based education for World Languages. It is important to remember that organization of the proficiency-based reporting standards presents a comprehensive picture of the standards of the Maine learning standards for each content area.  All of the performance indicators in the World Language example (A1, A2, A3, A4, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, and D1) are included. The proficiency-based reporting standards are shown in the chart below in yellow.  Schools can elect to report student proficiency based on the standards of the Maine Learning Results, the reporting standards described by the proficiency-based reporting standards or based on some other schema developed by the district.

Current Standards Structure

Model PBE Reporting Structure

Maine learning standards (MLR content standards)

Associated performance indicators

Associated performance indicators

PBE reporting standards


A1, A2, A3, A4


Interpersonal Communication


B1, B2, B3,


Interpretive Communication


C1, C2,


Presentational Communication



A4, B1, B2, B3, C2




C1, D1



 There are two critical questions that school districts will need to answer for themselves as they develop a schema for reporting on proficiency in each of the eight content areas:

  1. Does the district’s organizational schema for the standards represent a COMPREHENSIVE picture of the core ideas of the Maine Learning Results standards?
  2. What level of student performance is SUFFICIENT for a demonstration of student proficiency?